EKREM DUMANLI

New era that started in Arena

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended the closing ceremony of the 10th International »»

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended the closing ceremony of the 10th International Turkish Olympiad and delivered an emotional speech, inviting Mr. Fethullah Gülen back to Turkey.

One couldn’t get the full sense of the enthusiasm at the Türk Telekom Arena stadium simply watching TV. One needed to experience the atmosphere in the arena. It is obvious that the people’s yearning for Mr. Gülen has escalated to the highest point. The prime minister’s call, “Let’s put an end to this yearning,” was welcomed by thousands with tearful eyes. The next day, his invitation was the main theme of almost every newspaper.

So, everyone started to wonder what Mr. Gülen’s response would be. Meanwhile, commentators were making big claims on TV and Twitter hawks were laboring hard at propagandizing against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and disseminating animosity against the Hizmet movement. To derive extremely negative implications from such a positive move must be an ability possessed by some groups in our country which attempt to turn the country into a madhouse. That night, I looked first at ordinary citizens and then at online word spinners. There was such a great difference between them. One group was sincere and candid to the highest extent while the other was extremely artificial and superficial.

The people who vote for the AK Party and those who back the Hizmet movement were happy about what happened in the arena. These people were also the ones on the streets, in the marketplaces and in the mosques. They were the ones experiencing anguish, happiness, concern and joy, as their perspectives on the world were very close to each other, they didn’t like the dissension marketed as the rift between the Community, i.e. the Hizmet movement, and the AK Party. Accordingly, every sentence uttered in the name of camaraderie was received with great sympathy.

As for the outsiders, I cannot say that they are well-meaning in this respect. When there is the slightest trace of dispute, they blow it out of proportion, saying, “See, these guys challenge the government.” When there is an alliance between them, they rush to label the Community as pro-government. Actually, what they want to see is a blood feud between the children of the same neighborhood. Let me explain the sad truth: There is a group of people in Turkey who are neither happy with Prime Minister Erdoğan and nor do they pay any respect to Mr. Gülen’s views -- an overwhelming majority of this minority is stationed in the media. Therefore, their analysis on this matter is neither objective nor rational.

Those who know Mr. Gülen well predicted correctly how he would respond. Mr. Gülen found the prime minister’s invitation “chivalric” and said, “He did what suits him well.” Assessing the matter from another perspective, he noted that time is still not ripe for his return. And his perspective should be respected.

Both the prime minister’s invitation and Mr. Gülen’s response must have startled those who are seeking for an opportunity to disseminate the seeds of dissension and sedition. In reality, there is nothing surprising. The medallion has two sides: One concerns the Community and the other is related to the AK Party. The AK Party is not a party established by the Hizmet movement; likewise, the Community is not a subsidiary of the AK Party. Already, the Hizmet movement does not establish political parties; rather it chooses to maintain an equal distance to all parties and lend support to any political party that seeks to further democratic achievements.

And the AK Party has never treated the Community as its youth or local organizations and they never will. This is because the Community is not backing this party for partisan reasons. Rather, it supports it because of its emphasis on democracy and its fight against juntas.

Even during the times when relations were said to be “good,” it was known that there were disagreements on certain points. Yet this is not a defect or something to be ashamed of. Rather, that the Community that lends its full support on certain matters and may withhold it on others is a sign of healthy relations. What is unhealthy is that certain people among these groups may hurt each other out of envy or arrogance, or they may produce unfounded rumors and work toward the collapse of the democratic union. And some outsiders encourage such meaningless attitudes and even applaud them by pretending to tell the truth.

Here is the current state of affairs: As these people were making new moves to deepen the so-called rift between the Community and the AK Party, Prime Minister Erdoğan was invited to the Turkish Olympiad. It was a felicitously-made move. Prime Minister Erdoğan accepted this invitation and attended the closing ceremony of this festival, which had been sending ripples of enthusiasm all across the country for the last two weeks. And his acceptance of this invitation actually underlined the prime minister’s stance as one opposed to those who sought to maintain the dissension. Prime Minister Erdoğan was also offered the 10th Year Special Award of the Turkish Olympiad, and he accepted it gladly. Both moves were significant. The prime minister’s call to “put absence from home and longing for the homeland to one side” was important message; so was Mr. Gülen’s depiction of his call as “chivalric.”

Yet you can be sure that certain groups will not stay idle, but labor hard to portray natural differences between the party and Community as signs of a rift. You will even hear arguments even the most evil minds cannot think of. Just as they have claimed that some foreign powers have infiltrated this group of innocent people, they will come with new devilries. It is not easy to predict what they will fabricate, given the fact that they have tagged the one of world’s most liberal, civilian and democratic movements as pro-security or pro-status quo. Having seen what they have said in the context of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) crisis, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the most delirious illusions from them. You will see some pretend to side with the Community and hurl charges at the party while others do the same from the other side. Yet, these can be neglected as Prime Minister Erdoğan’s and Mr. Gülen’s stances will certain bring about a new climate. Different perspectives on certain matters are the natural outcome of differences between a political movement and a civil society movement. It is utterly wrong to create dissension out of those differences and seed contention among people based on these differences.

2012-06-17

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Columnist:: EKREM DUMANLI